There are certain exercises that women can do to stay in shape during their pregnancy that won’t put pressure on their backs and other parts of their body.The exercises you choose should be safe for the baby but still challenging enough to help you stay fit. Pregnant women can do any exercise as long as it is not too intense. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure about which exercises are safe for you to do during pregnancy.
Experts agree, when you’re expecting, it’s important to keep moving: Pregnant women who exercise have less back pain, more energy, a better body image and, post-delivery, a faster return to their pre-pregnancy shape.
Be sure to do the moves in the order shown and, for best results, do the workout every other day. Always check with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.
Stand parallel to the back of a sturdy chair with the hand closest to the chair resting on it, feet parallel and hip-distance apart.
With your toes and knees turned out to 45 degrees, pull your belly button up and in. Bend your knees, lowering your torso as low as possible while keeping your back straight [shown]. Straighten your legs to return to starting position. Repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Quadriceps, hamstrings and butt. Improves balance.
RELATED: Prenatal Yoga Workout
Side-Lying Inner and Outer Thigh
Lie on your right side, head supported by your forearm, right leg bent at a 45-degree angle and left leg straight. Place your opposite arm on the floor for stability. Lift left leg to about hip height and repeat for reps.
Then, bend your left knee and rest it on top of pillows for support. Straighten your right leg and lift it as high as possible for reps [shown]. Switch sides and repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Core and inner thighs.
Get down on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees and straighten your legs behind you until your body forms a straight line. Don’t arch your back or let your belly sag [shown].
Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths.
Strengthens: Core, arms and back.
Curl and Lift
Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your back straight, feet on the floor, arms at your sides. Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing your body. Bend your elbows so your arms form a 90-degree angle [shown].
Then, keeping your elbows bent, lift the weights to shoulder height. Lower your arms to your sides, then straighten to return to starting position. Repeat for reps.
Strengthens: Biceps and shoulders.
Using a sturdy chair, place your right knee on the seat, left foot on the floor. Bend for- ward, back parallel to the floor and place your right hand on the seat. Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in your left hand, arm extended down and in line with your shoulder, palm facing in.
Bend your left elbow up so that your arm forms a 90-degree angle [shown]. Hold, then return to starting position. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Strengthens: Back, biceps and triceps.
Pregnancy Workouts: Best 10 Minute Workout
Pregnant women can continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body and know what feels right for you; there’s no perfect workout regime. For example, you might want to opt for a less-strenuous prenatal yoga class over running on a treadmill. There are many types of exercises that every pregnant woman can do, from swimming and walking to tai chi and dancing. However, it’s important to avoid contact sports such as racquetball or kickboxing once you’re about 12 weeks pregnant because there’s a risk of falling on your belly (which could cause a miscarriage). Pregnant women should do all the exercises that are to their liking as long as they don’t want to harm themselves or their unborn baby. Women should keep in mind that an active and healthy lifestyle can influence the growth and development of their children.
Exercises are a great way to stay healthy, lose weight and tone your body. However, it is important to realize that exercising while pregnant needs to be done with caution. Even though physical activity can be helpful during pregnancy, excessive exercise can lead to problems such as dehydration. In addition, certain exercises may cause women discomfort and even harm their unborn child. A pregnant woman can perform walking, swimming and aerobic exercises. Walking helps with circulation throughout the body and is great for weight loss during pregnancy. Swimming helps maintain strength while keeping you cool. Finally, participating in aerobic exercise like jogging or brisk walks allows a mom-to-be to reflect on herself and stay healthy.
Which Exercises Are Good For A Pregnant Woman
Exercises are good for a pregnant woman because they keep her body in shape and they are good for the baby too. Exercise helps to loosen muscles and ligaments in preparation for birth, as well as keeping blood flow to the uterus strong and steady. This makes the womb stronger and creates more space for baby’s growing body. In addition, exercise helps keep weight gain at healthy levels, which safeguards a woman’s health during pregnancy
List Of Exercises For Pregnant Women:
1. Squats and Lunges: Squats and lunges are exercises to tone up legs muscles. Incorporate squats, lunges and leg presses in your workout routine.
2. Swimming: Swimming is one of the best exercises for pregnant women because it releases stress and it reduces anxiety by calming down mind which helps you sleep better.
3. Jogging; Aerobics: Jogging & Aerobic exercise are one of the most recommended exercises for pregnant women, as they both help strengthen your core body muscles to prepare your stomach for labor delivery.
4. Bicycling: Cycling is another great workout can be done during pregnancy as it helps improve blood flow throughout entire body & tones the legs too.
5. Stretching & Yoga poses: A basic stretching routine will give you a lot of flexibility & strength for delivering the baby safely
You don’t have to be exhausted by exercise to benefit from it. The goal is to build up to and keep a good level of fitness throughout your pregnancy.
Safe exercise in pregnancy
- Check with your doctor or midwife if you plan to start a new form of exercise.
- Always stop if something hurts, even if you’re used to being active.
- If you join an exercise class that isn’t just for pregnant women, tell the teacher you’re pregnant so you can get the advice you need.
- If you did a lot of exercise before you were pregnant, for example if you were a runner, you can keep it up as long as you feel comfortable.
- Avoid overheating.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Make sure you can pass the ‘talk test’
What is the talk test?
The talk test is an easy way to tell if you’re doing the right amount of activity while pregnant and getting the most benefit from safe exercise.
- You should be doing enough to make you breathe deeply but you shouldn’t have to gasp for breath.
- If you can say a whole sentence before having to take a breath, you’re getting your activity level about right.
- If you can only say a few words between breaths, ease off a bit.
Find out more about when to stop exercising in pregnancy.
What exercise can I do in each trimester of pregnancy?
You can start exercising at any time during your pregnancy. Even if you’re used to being active, you’ll need to adapt your activities a bit as your bump gets bigger.
Stop straight away if you feel any pain.
How active should I be in the first trimester?
During the first trimester (weeks 1 to 13) you can keep doing whatever you were doing before you became pregnant, unless there’s a risk that you could be hit, get too hot or have a fall. Read about exercises to avoid in pregnancy.
- If you’re not used to exercising, start gently and build up slowly.
- Ask your midwife, or check at your local leisure centre or gym for pregnancy exercise classes you can join.
- Try to avoid contact sports, such as boxing, rugby or football, and sports where you could fall, such as horse riding.
- If you enjoy cycling but are worried about falling off your bike, switch to indoor cycling.
How active should I be in the second trimester?
During the second trimester (weeks 14 to 27) your bump will be growing and it may be a good time to think about swapping high-impact exercises, like running and jumping, for low-impact activities, such as walking or swimming.
- If you ran regularly before your pregnancy, it’s fine to carry on if you’re comfortable but talk to your doctor or midwife if you’re worried.
- Yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics classes are all great, but if they’re not pregnancy classes, it’s important to tell the teacher you’re pregnant.
- Don’t lie on your back for longer than a few minutes. It could affect your blood supply and make you feel sick or dizzy.
How active should I be in the third trimester?
In the third trimester (weeks 28 to 40) you can carry on exercising as long as you feel well and comfortable. If you feel okay, you can stay active right up to the birth of your baby.
- Keep doing low-impact activities, such as walking and swimming.
- You can do gentle stretches to reduce aches and pains.
Top tips for an active pregnancy
- Try to make being active part of your everyday life.
- If you’re not usually very active, build up gradually.
- Go walking or swimming with a friend.
- Get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
- Play your music and put some extra effort into the housework.
- Take the stairs instead of using the lift. If you’re going up lots of floors, get off a floor or two early.
- Try a pregnancy exercise class.
- Avoid getting too hot and drink plenty of water.
Exercise is just as important for pregnant women as it is for any other mom. In fact, regular exercise improves both the mother’s and baby’s health. It allows the mother to have a more energy and feel more relaxed, which makes it easier to handle all the changes that come when you’re pregnant. There are certain activities you should avoid during pregnancy: gymnastics, racquetball and scuba diving (if it’s not medically safe). But there are many other activities you can do safely to get yourself and your growing baby fit. Prenatal exercise is very important to maintain your fitness during pregnancy and to promote a healthy birth. Pregnancy can create many changes in your body, especially as you get further along toward your due date. The benefits of prenatal exercise include: Decreased backaches and joint pain, Increased energy, Joyful mood and improved self-esteem, Better sleep, Reduced stress level and anxiety
Pregnancy Exercises At Home
Pregnancy exercises at home can help you feel healthy and strong. From stretching to strengthening, find exercises that suit your current activity level and keep up your physical fitness routine during pregnancy. With our pregnancy exercise video library, you can take a break from the gym and stay fit while meeting your body’s specific needs. Designed by experts, these exercises can be done safely at home, with easy-to-understand instructions. Our workouts are all about feeling good, so you’ll get results without having to break the bank or spend hours on your feet.
Before we dive in, there are a few tips and a little housekeeping to get out of the way…
DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH
While completing resistance training, avoid holding your breath. It’s recommended that you exhale when your muscles are contracting and inhale when they are relaxing. For example: when squatting – when you lower down into the squat, inhale. When you stand up, exhale.
Just remember, the most important thing is to breathe – so just go with whatever breath sequence works best for you!
FIND THE RIGHT INTENSITY FOR YOU
We’re all different, and we all have good and bad days. For this reason, all of these exercises can be regressed or progressed. If you don’t have very much experience, take a few weeks to learn how to do the movements. Make sure you focus on the muscles that are working and squeeeeeeze as much as you can!
As you become more confidence with the movement you can progress in a few different ways:
- Increasing repetitions: once you get to about 15, you can think about progressing the weight, slightly
- Increasing weight: increase the weight so that you can only complete 8 repetitions, while maintaining great form. How can you add weight when I have no gym equipment?! Here are some creative ideas:
- Soup cans
- Filled water bottles
- A backpack filled with books
- Increase “time under tension”: this means…slow down. Increase the amount of time it takes to complete one repetition – yes, this will “burn” but that’s what we’re aiming for!
- Reduce your resting time between sets: you might reduce your rest time from 90 seconds to 60 or 30 seconds. This will also challenge your endurance!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
If you only have 10 minutes to do a bit of exercise, just pick a few exercises to complete. Choose one or two for your upper body and one or two for your lower body! Also include your pelvic floor exercises.
You don’t need to make exercise complicated and shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t have time or are just not “feeling” it. Again, these are strange times so if you are feeling more emotionally exhausted than usual, be kind to yourself. Move your body to celebrate what it can do and don’t feel ashamed if that isn’t up to your usual standards!
On the other hand, if you’re bursting with energy, add a few more exercises to your session. You can choose to either focus only on lower body or upper body during a single session or you can do a full body workout.
RESISTANCE EXERCISES FOR PREGNANCY
Now, here are some fantastic home exercises for you to try! Complete 2-3 sets of each.
1. SIT TO STAND
- Place a chair behind you – make sure it is stable and isn’t going to move!
- Take a small step away from your chair. Start with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. You can adjust your stance to what feels most comfortable to you. Toes can point straight ahead or slightly out, again, depending on what is comfortable to you.
- Keeping shoulders relaxed, put your arms out in front of you as a counter balance.
- Start the movement by moving your hips back, reaching for the chair with your bottom.
- Slowly bend your knees until your bottom touches the chair – don’t rest you weight on it. Just touch slightly.
- When you stand up, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes (bottom muscle) at the top of the movement.
- You should feel your glutes and thighs working.
- Repeat for 8-10 repetitions.
- Regression: Add a cushion to your seat so you don’t have to squat down so far.
- Progression: Increase repetitions or use backpack filled with books as weight.
2. STATIC LUNGE
NOTE: If you have any pelvic girdle pain, avoid this exercise.
- Use something to help steady you, such as a counter top or wall.
- Take a big step forward, while keeping your feet as wide apart as your hips. You don’t want a narrow stance because it will make you unbalanced.
- Your front leg will be doing a bit more work and your back leg will act as a stabiliser.
- Dip your back knee towards the floor, while keeping your body nice and tall – no leaning forwards!
- Press into the lead leg’s heel as you stand back up. Stay in your stance and lower back down immediately.
- You should feel your glutes and thighs working.
- Repeat for 8-10 repetitions. Switch feet position and repeat on other side!
- Regression: Reduce the amount you drop your knee to the ground. A smaller range of motion will make this easier so you can focus on really squeezing your muscles through the movement.
- Progression: Increase repetitions or use a backpack filled with books as weight.
3. KICK BACKS
- Stand facing your counter or a wall for support.
- Turn your tummy muscles on and do a pelvic tilt. This means tuck your tailbone under!
- Squeeze your glute (bottom muscle) and with a straight leg, extend your leg back away from the wall.
- This is a very small movement – too much as you will start to use your lower back. We just want to focus on using your glute muscles for this exercise!
- Return to the start position and repeat for 10-12 repetitions. Then switch legs and repeat.
- Regression: reduce the number of repetitions.
- Progression: hold the squeeze for 3 seconds before releasing your leg to the start position.
4. SIDE LYING LEG RAISE
- Place a yoga mat or towel on the floor for comfort. You can also perform on your bed, if easier!
- Lie on your side and bend your bottom knee slightly, for stability. Roll forward just a bit so your top hip bone is slightly in front of the bottom hip bone.
- Slowly raise your top leg, while keeping the knee straight. Squeeze your glute muscle, then slowly lower back down.
- Repeat for 12-15 repetitions. Then flip to the other side and repeat with other leg.
- Regression: do the same movement, but standing up (so you won’t be working against gravity).
- Progression: hold the position for 3 seconds before slowly lowering back to the start position.
5. HIP THRUST
- You can do this off the edge of your couch or bed (couch is a bit better!)
- Rest your mid back off the edge of the couch, with your feet out in front and knees bent. You can use your forearms to support your while you set your feet up.
- Do a pelvic tilt then press through your heels and thrust your hips up to the ceiling.
- Slowly lower back to the start position.
- You should feel your glutes and the backs of your legs working. If you mainly feel your thighs working, think about pushing through your heels more when raising your hips!
- Repeat for 8-10 repetitions.
- Regression: Reduce the number of repetitions or how much you raise your hips (smaller range of motion will be easier).
- Progression: Increase the number of repetitions or slightly stagger your feet (the foot closer to your bottom will be doing more work – make sure you switch feet position so both sides get a workout!)
6. RAISED PUSH-UPS
- Using a counter top, stand about 1m away. Place hands on the counter, shoulder width apart.
- Start by doing a pelvic tilt and keep your glute muscles turned on through the push-up movement.
- Keeping your elbows as close to your body as is comfortable, slowly lower your chest to the counter top. Then, push back to the starting position.
- You should feel your chest muscles working on the way up and back muscles working on the way down.
- Repeat for 8-10 reps.
- Regression: Stand closer to the counter or perform against a wall.
- Progression: Use a lower surface to push from, such as your bed or couch.
7. WALL SLIDES/SNOW ANGELS
- With your back to a wall, stand about 30cm away it. Now lean against the wall.
- Keep your arms by your side and with elbows against the wall, bend your elbows 90 degrees. Your wrists and the back of your hands should be flat against the wall.
- Keeping elbows bent and wrists touching the wall (as best you can), slide your arms up the wall.
- Raise them until your upper arm is parallel to the floor then slowly lower back to starting position.
- Avoid arching your lower back, try to keep in it a neutral position.
- You should feel your mid back muscles working.
- Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
- Regression: Reduce the range of motion (don’t lift your arms so high).
- Progression: Increase the number of repetitions or hold soup cans as weight.
8. 4 -POINT ARM RAISES
- You can do this exercise on the floor using a towel and yoga mat or on your bed (if you use your bed, you’ll challenge your stability a bit more!).
- Get onto your hands and knees and turn your tummy muscles on to help you stabilise.
- Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, slowly raise one arm out in front of you. Keep your elbow straight and have your thumbs pointing to the ceiling.
- You should feel like you are trying to stretch your fingers out so they can touch the nearest wall, without moving your body.
- Slowly lower it back down.
- You should feel your core muscles working to stabilise you and your back muscles working to raising your arm.
- Repeat for 10-12 repetitions. Then switch arms and repeat on other side.
- Regression: Reduce the number of repetitions.
- Progression: Increase repetitions or hold soup cans as weight.
9. ARM CIRCLES
- Stand tall and keep your shoulders away from your ears during this exercise.
- Raise both of your arms out to the side so they are parallel to the ground. Elbows need to stay straight.
- Make small circles with your hands – forwards for 20 repetitions then backwards for 20 repetitions.
- You should feel your shoulder muscles working and mid back muscles working to help stabilise.
- Regression: Reduce the number of repetitions.
- Progression: Increase repetitions or hold soup cans as weight.
10. PELVIC FLOOR BREATHING EXERCISE
- Get in a relaxed seated position with legs uncrossed.
- Place one hand on your chest on one hand on your stomach.
- As you breathe in, feel you stomach and chest expand and your perineum relax.
- As you breathe out, your rib cage and stomach will drop. Start to think about lifting your pelvic floor upwards. You will feel like you are pulling the walls of your vagina and anus inwards and upwards.
- You can do one big squeeze first to make sure you are feeling the contraction, then only squeeze at 30% for the next 8-10 repetitions.
- Make sure you take your time with each repetition – inhale for at least 4 seconds and exhale for at least 4 seconds.
GETTING THE RIGHT ADVICE
Most women are encouraged to participate in physical activity throughout pregnancy. However, there are some women who have conditions or circumstances that may need to be considered before they start an exercise program.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy (older maternal age, pre-existing health conditions, multiple births etc) or would like more guidance on how to exercise safely, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment to see an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. There are some Accredited Exercise Physiologists who specialise in women’s health and many are starting to offer telehealth services online.
This program combines a pregnancy-safe yoga routine with simple strength-building exercises designed to prepare your body for labor. Becoming a mom doesn’t end just because you’re pregnant. Strength training for pregnant women is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can even help reduce stress, improve sleep and circulation, relieve aches and pains, and keep you feeling young!
You don’t need special equipment to get in shape during pregnancy. All you need is a little determination and these nine simple moves to keep your body healthy, reduce stress and help you enjoy both mommyhood and parenthood. you should exercise during pregnancy and not to worry about it, this will help you reduce weight and prepare yourself for a good recovery after birth.